Okay, first off – after the whole ACoW debacle this last Feb/March, I met a lot of wonderful people through Facebook, and it has opened my eyes in so many ways to problems within the larger pagan community both domestically here in America, but also worldwide. And lemme tell you, like with the majority of other issues in the world, the American pagan community is very…. polarizing. There’s so many that are like “DOWN WITH THE ELDERS EVERYWHERE! THIS IS A NEW AGE AND I’M GOING TO LEAD IT!” and then there’s the other folk who are like “Yo, in the traditions of X elders are an important and essential part of their practice and belief system. It might not be your cup of tea, but really pull those claws in because it you’re acting like a spoiled child. Go pray to your gods, do what you do, and chill out mate.”
Seriously. And it’s kind of frightening. I know there’s people like this everywhere, but I see more and more of it in the American side of the ponds than anywhere else.
Recently, the digital radio station United Pagan Radio has been the center of some controversy. Anyone who’s been following my blog the last few months would know the link between UPR and ACoW2015 – Specifically a man named Robert Aaron. But for once, this post isn’t about that skeevy man who gives me the willies. That’ll be a post for another day. Maybe not for a long time. It really depends on my mood and if I’m for sharing some stuff I found out or not. Anyway, so – UPR and controversy. Well, over Easter weekend, someone noted on one of their Facebook pages, specifically Witchcraft Tonight, that they had posted a spell that belonged to someone and they didn’t give a name or any form of credit to this person. So what’s a witch to do? Well, run it through a plagiarism checker of course – Just to be sure if the claim of copyright infringement is valid.
Unfortunately, it was valid. Very valid. So other spells from that page were also plugged into multiple checkers, to ensure as accurate a result as possible and to take advantage of not only the internet, but books as well. No less than three were clearly identified as copy and pasted without any sourcing or attribution to the original creator of the content. Anyone following The Wild Hunt would know plagiarism is rampant in the pagan community globally, as they recently published an article on the subject. I won’t go into detail on the article, but feel free to peruse it as you will. Here’s the link directly to it. Well, when this was pointed out to the fine people at UPR, and their station manager/owner Randi Michelle Rayne…. you can imagine the toddler level tantrum. No, that’s insulting to toddlers everywhere… Let’s just say, it was a tantrum of epic levels of spoiled entitlement.
Here is EXACTLY what happened.
I asked people more knowledgeable in copyright law both domestically (America) and internationally what I should do with this information. Consulting numerous texts regarding Fair Use and basic Copyright Law, it was suggested that I contact the copyright holder of the works I had identified as having been posted without giving even a source or even a comment of “We do not know the source of this” type of statement. So that is exactly what I did. I took screencaptures, and I sent them directly to the publisher, along with links to the specific posts in question. I also provided them with the direct link to the radio program’s page stating that I could only positively identify 3, but there may be others so they should take a closer look at the content themselves. This was Saturday.
This morning, Monday, apparently they had. As suddenly there’s a commotion about how “the elders” said they can’t share spells anymore. It was pointed out to the admin of the Witchcraft Today Facebook page that all that simply needed to be done was take five minutes to run the spells through a checker, many of which can be found free to use online (some check just the internet, others check books as well. Google Books is one such free service.), and to provide the source information of the material. Or, alternatively remove them. Additional suggestions included that in future, write their own and post them. The suggestions and comments were all straightforward, and none of them were actually rude or demeaning. Simply stating what to many is common sense and obvious.
Apparently, this was simply too much to ask and the tantrum ensued. Now, there remains one single post that states they will no longer be posting spells to the page. Before this, numerous people were blocked, their actually reasonable comments removed.
This is but one of many numerous problems wherein members of the radio station had been caught out doing something bad, had their hand swatted to reprimand them, and then it’s “all the elders’ faults!” as if blaming someone else for a problem they created in the first place will solve said problems. (To anyone following Gamergate, this behavior should be rather familiar I think.)
This leads me back into that sense of entitlement… I mentioned in past post, a ranty ramble, about UPR’s general disdain for elders of the pagan community at large. Apparently the argument is that elders are holding paganism back. They are actively discouraging people from learning and growing and gaining more knowledge. They refuse to teach anyone about their beliefs, etc.
This is actually not the case. Quite the opposite – elders encourage people to learn and grow and gain more knowledge. But they are not going to just hand it out willy nilly. They’re not going to pass on their teachings and traditions to someone who is unwilling to put in the work required to understand them. If they feel that you are not ready, then no they are not going to give you what you seek. They also acknowledge that everyone’s views and beliefs vary, and theirs is but one of many paths someone can choose.
Let’s use a similar example here.
You walk into the Vatican, walk up to the pope himself, and demand that he give you the secrets of Christianity. You then demand he tell you the secrets of the universe. And then when he tells you he cannot, but will be more than happy to teach you about the Christian faith, their customs and beliefs, you shout that he’s an idiot and nobody needs him, and then start shouting at everyone within earshot that the pope is a fraud.
What do you think is going to happen in this situation?
Let’s use another example.
You walk into the leader of your country’s office. Let’s assume you somehow got past security. You demand that he or she tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your government, how it works, and most of all the top secret information that the general public is not privy to. Let’s assume they don’t call security and have your ass toted off or shot, depending on your country. He or she won’t give you the top secret information because you do not work for them. You are not a member of any agency that is meant to know that information, and it is obvious you are not going to join one. You may get a rudimentary “This is how our government works” statement. Because you did not get what you wanted immediately after demanding it, you then turn around and begin a smear campaign to get your leader removed from office.
What do you think is going to happen next in this situation?
This is EXACTLY what is happening. The people at UPR approach elders in good faith, and when they are told no for any arbitrary reason, out of left field comes yet another rant of a spoiled child about how elders are hoarding information and won’t share.
Elders are not just elders because of their age. If that were the case, then anyone over the age of probably 55 would be considered an elder. They are elders because they have earned the respect that goes with it. They have done their education in their pagan paths, they have put in the work and have turned that work around to aid and help others. To educate others. Not just those they deem “worthy” but those who are respectful and understanding. Those who show a genuine interest in what they do, what they practice, and what they believe.
By bashing elders in the way that they do at UPR, it is actually alienating those who follow traditions and paths in which elders play a key role (I’m looking at you Gardnerians and Alexandrians). By bashing them as strongly as they do, they are not only disrespecting the individuals who fall under that heading from ANY tradition and path, but also disrespecting those who are not elders but follow those traditions. They are repeatedly being called mindless sheep.
Is this the behavior you want in people who seek to be a voice for the pagan community? Are we really going to sit back and let bullies basically take swings in the schoolyard because we don’t agree with them?
The answer to this is rather simple, really. Stop listening to them. Completely. Don’t visit their website(s). Don’t pull their feed in from a third party site. Simply… ignore them. A radio station thrives on listeners. It exists to be heard. It’s entire purpose is to be heard. So… remove its purpose. Starve it to death. Take your patronage elsewhere. If it’s a station big enough to not need to worry about boosting listeners in order to survive, then still don’t listen to it. Don’t subject yourself to something you don’t have to.
I know I certainly won’t. I’ve found a replacement for my pagan radio needs. Many, in fact. And I’m much happier for it.
As a matter of fact, a new and very dear already friend on Facebook shared a link to a new station based, I believe, up in Canada called The Cauldron. She shared it because they were actually playing one of her old songs, and was excited about it. When I clicked the link, they were playing another of her songs. Immediately, my loud and rather fussy son quieted down, relaxed, and then softly started to sing along. This kid ONLY sings along with Spongebob Squarepants or Chuggington. So of course, the page went into my bookmarks.
I was going to write more, but I’ve been battling a WICKED cold or something for over a week now, and my cold meds are like really good right now and I can barely keep my eyes open at the moment.
Anyway, I leave you with this question… Are we entitled to everything we ever ask for without being willing to put in the work?